BALOG COLUMN: Event organizers look to balance fun, safety
Ah, the holidays — a time for making merry, visiting with friends and enjoying the changing seasons.
And dressing up in your scariest and/or skimpiest outfit.
Though the official, kid-friendly celebration falls on Wednesday, adult Halloween revelers will be out in force tonight at parties and bars, though likely none more well-publicized or well-attended than Skinful Halloween.
This carnival, costume contest and concert in the unincorporated part of James Island is the place to be for grown-up Halloween tricks and treats.
With great popularity, of course, comes greater responsibility, and the event organizers were well aware that there would be additional scrutiny for this year’s event. Last year’s tragic accident, in which a pedestrian was struck and killed leaving the party, ensured that.
Halloween is like New Year’s Eve except with skimpier outfits.
Unfortunately, the similarity between the two holidays also extends to drunken-driving fatalities.
According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics, 41 percent of all highway fatalities around Halloween in 2010 involved a driver with a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher. That’s virtually the same rate for traffic fatalities for the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.
Throw black clothing, masks and makeup into the mix and you can see where pedestrian safety is a losing battle.
So you can see why organizers are forbidding people from walking along the roadside by the party tonight.
Your best bet is to take a cab, grab a seat on the party bus, or on one of the shuttles leaving from Gold’s Gym on James Island, Loggerhead’s on Folly Beach, Fuel downtown or Juanita Greenberg’s in Mount Pleasant. The organizers worked with a lot of places to get discounts from their normal fares, as well as with taxi companies.
“This event does more than any other event does in Charleston for trying to help people get to an event without drinking and driving,” said co-organizer Dave Brisacher.
And let’s face it, if you’re that concerned about spending a few extra bucks for a cab or a shuttle, you probably shouldn’t have bought a ticket to Skinful in the first place. (It is worth noting that the organizers donate a portion of the proceeds to charity each year.)
Everybody knows this can’t undo what happened last year. Furthermore, there’s no cure for bad decision-making.
That’s where the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office comes in. In addition to officers at the event, there will be a sizable presence on Folly Road and Riverland Drive to keep people from hurting themselves or someone else.
Anybody who volunteers to be a designated driver tonight ought to get a medal. But the reality is, this is a night of fantasy, fun and frolic for a lot of folks, and having a couple drinks or three is part of the way they let loose.
Which is fine, as long as they don’t get behind the wheel.
Reach Digital Editor Melanie Balog at firstname.lastname@example.org.